Study Guide

Where Things Come Back Isolation

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The small town blues are a real thing, so even though community and family are both strong in Lily, many characters in Where Things Come Back are living in painful loneliness. Cullen and his friends are all teenagers stuck in a place they don't want to be, which makes them feel isolated and misunderstood to begin with. Things only get worse when Cullen's family loses Gabriel; with him gone, everyone is stuck in their own private misery, and even being around other people doesn't alleviate the pain and loneliness. 

Questions About Isolation

  1. Why do you think Cabot is so shaken by the loss of his roommate and the failure of his young marriage?
  2. Do you think that Ada's reasons for leaving Cullen are right? Why or why not?
  3. How does the family dynamic change when Gabriel disappears?
  4. Do you think Aunt Julia should continue to live by herself now that Oslo is dead? Why or why not? 

Chew on This

When Gabriel disappears, it highlights the loneliness that Cullen already feels in Lily, Arkansas. Without his brother there, he can't hide from the fact that he doesn't have many deep connections in this town.

Despite the fact that he comes from a rich family and has many friends in college, Cabot is shaken to the core when Bennett dies because he realizes that someone can die without being terribly missed by those close to them.

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